Mussorie: With rapid growth in domestic tourism industry, railways have worked out a package that takes care of train reservation and hotel booking woes to woo Indian and foreign tourists and plans an entry in outbound tourism.
“We have worked out a dynamic strategy in association with transporters, hoteliers and state tourism departments to provide an affordable package to tourists. Knowns as VAT package, it is being launched across the country,” A.K. Barar, Group General Manager, Indian Railway and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) told PTI here.
“We have identified about 80 prominent destinations including Mussorie, Shimla, Kanyakumari, Cochin, Munnar, Puri, in the first phase which will be expanded in the next phase to include more tourist spots in the country,” Barar said.
“We are targetting the common man to avail our new services. Whether it is a group of people or just one family, the VAT package can be availed by all,” said Barar.
Though IRCTC had earlier been in tourism business it was not in a full-fledged way as more focus was on catering business. Now, it has created a new tourism marketing department to work out novel ways to lure tourists in a big way. The department is constantly working out new schemes to woo tourists.
A senior IRCTC official said, “As per our future plan, we are planning to launch a package for foreign tours. We are in discussion with some airlines. Once everything is finalised, we will launch our overseas package.”
He said foreign tourists can also avail of the special package for domestic tourists.
IRCTC recently hired professionals associated with tourism sector to push the tourism business.
“Since we are now focusing on tourism, we have hired 22 professionals to design and execute the new schemes. More professionals will be joining soon,” said the IRCTC official.
He said the railway is launching a Buddhist Special train from Safdarjung railway station on 6 October. The train would cover all Buddhist sites in eight days and the majority of its passengers are foreigners.
Vayu Shukla, IRCTC Assistant Manager, said that in the north zone alone, about 20 destinations have been identified including Vaishno Devi, Haridwar, Kasauli, Kangra and Ajmer.
“Our approach is simple. We assure a safe and secured journey to ‘aam admi´ (common man). Right from ensuring train reservation to staying arrangement in hotels will be our responsibility. The packages are designed in various categories ranging from weekend get-aways to five-day trip,” he said.
“We are directly in competition with domestic travel agents. But we are hopeful that we would be able to attract a considerable number of tourists with our VAT package,” said Shukla.